If witnessing Aurora Borealis (more commonly refer to as the ‘Northern Lights’) is a definitive item on your bucket list, then you are not alone; this natural spectacle of colour ranks high on the most popular bucket list objectives. I too desired to glance upon its majesty, a contributing factor towards my choice of visiting Iceland in winter. Thankfully, fortune favours the bold and on a cold, January night in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland, my dreams were answered.
My unforgettable trip with Iceland Travel around Iceland’s south coast was drawing to a close. Following several nights of cloudy skies, this would be the last opportunity to see the Northern Lights under otherwise optimal conditions. Our tour group congregated in the hotel lobby after a long day of exploring – but things were looking grim. According to our guide, activity levels were predicted to be low.
Determined to avoid disappointment, he sporadically ventured outside (with crampons due to dangerously icy conditions) and used visual skills to assess the current situation. It was on one of these hunts that myself and two other eager group members decided to join.
After walking over fences and climbing snow mounds, we stood shivering in an open field with mountains sloping to our left. Our guide pointed above us.
‘You see that? That’s the beginning of the Northern Lights. Watch and wait‘
He departed to inform the awaiting group and the three of us were very much alone under the seemingly limitless stars. A pale green light began to shimmer above us. We began shouting and dancing, beckoning the lights towards us – and they answered.
We stood there for what seemed like hours: too cold to stay, too euphoric to leave. Eventually, the group that had gathered began to disperse and I too, along with a number of younger, more energetic members finally began the walk back to the hotel.
Here, we warmed ourselves; but we had not yet had our fill. At 12pm, after 40 minutes of excited ramblings, we ventured back into the cold where we were rewarded with an even brighter, more vivid exhibit. Now, instead of just above us, the green veil snaked across the whole sky.
The only way to see it all was to lying in the snow. How appropriate! Holding hands underneath the illuminated heavens was a very humbling experience indeed.
Although there were other opportunities to witness the Northern Lights during my trip to Iceland, I was satisfied. The lights we saw were not the brightest, nor were they the strongest, but I felt that they were ours and ours alone.
I would love to see the Northern Lights again, but nothing can compare to that beautiful moment, were everything seemed so perfect.
I’d like to thank the lovely Wissal Ayadi, who was able to capture these amazing moments on camera, and our fantastic guide Snorri, who tolerated our mad antics and who without, our experience in Iceland would not have been the same.